Even though Kareem Hunt is likely to face a lengthy suspension to start the 2019 season – stemming from three sets of off-field incidents of violence and misconduct, which have led to league investigations – there figures to be several teams preparing to check in on his status as a free agent once that ruling comes down.
With that said, it doesn’t sound like the Bears are all the way there when it comes to bringing in Hunt – at least, not right now. GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy fielded questions about Hunt at their season-ending press conference, with the takeaway being that there’s a lot Hunt has to do off the field before the team would entertain the thought of bringing him into the fold. Chairman George McCaskey later followed Pace’s lead, telling reporters “the important thing is that he address issues in his personal life at this point,” reiterating the team isn’t at a point where it would consider signing Hunt, and adding that neither his team’s GM or head coach has brought up signing Hunt at that moment.
With the Bears not shutting the door on the possibility of signing Hunt, the questions about him and a potential second chance in Chicago will continue to pop up. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times caught up with wide receiver Allen Robinson, who was asked about bringing Hunt into the Bears’ locker room.
Here’s his response: “From when I met [him] and everything like that, for us to bring him into our locker room, I think guys would welcome him with open arms,” Robinson said in the interview with the Sun-Times. “He’d be one of us. … A guy they’d bring into our locker room would be our brother.”
Finley notes that Robinson’s interactions with Hunt are limited and that Robinson said he wasn’t clear on the details surrounding Hunt’s release by the Chiefs. (Michael: Maybe he should be, if he’s going to be making comments like that.)
As we noted in our George McCaskey Speaks post, the Chairman admitted he made a mistake when signing off on the team’s signing of Ray McDonald while he was dealing with domestic violence allegations and other off-field incidents. McCaskey made it seem as if he knows he has more to do than discuss the situation with a player’s family, friends, ex-teammates, or players he has crossed paths with before crossing that bridge with Hunt. Players would be wise to follow that lead, too.
Between Nagy’s familiarity with the player, the way he used his running backs late in the season (and in the team’s lone playoff game), and the potential long-term need at the position, the connections will be made between the Bears and Hunt until he signs elsewhere. And until that day comes, don’t be surprised if other Bears weigh in on the subject if asked.